Right, clearing up any confusion, I had to delete this chapter due to regrettable circumstances. However, I took the time to do a little rewrite and here it is again. Might be a little different from last time, but it's essentially the same. Don't fix what ain't broke, eh?
Sorry if you got confused when you saw an update for this story, I intend to make sure this doesn't happen again. Right, on with it!
A Kiss Goodnight
Dusk had could hardly remember a time he felt so happy after he walked out of the ball room together with Twilight Sparkle, the two of them standing rather close together and walking side by side. Against all of the odds, all of his doubts and fears, he had actually shared a dance with the mare who had captured his heart… and she had actually enjoyed it! Well, he assumed that she did, but she was still smiling and leaning close to him, so it was all good signs.
He was actually surprised when he discovered that it was already close to midnight by the time their dance had stopped. The two of them were of course on a schedule, as the spell for Twilight's apple carriage would wear off at midnight and it would just become a normal apple again. Time had become a meaningless concept to them both, only taking note of the rhythm of their movements and the moment they were sharing in. Dusk didn't want it to end and when it finally did and they had to leave…
Well, it couldn't last forever. But he knew he would never forget this night and, hopefully, if it meant as much to her as it did to him, she wouldn't either.
Additionally, he was pleasantly surprised at how Twilight was reacting to all of this. Before, she'd always kept a respectable distance from him and blushed as much as he did when their sides so much as brushed against each other. Recently, she'd been a little more relaxed, but still embarrassed about closeness. Now though, she seemed perfectly content, as he was, gazing frequently at him as they walked. Dusk didn't know if it was just her being friendly or she meant something more, but he did like it at any rate.
He could still smell the fragrance of the lilac in her ear and it made him feel so peaceful just to breath in that scent.
None of the girls said anything by the time they reached the carriage, except for Rainbow who demanded why they had taken so long with whatever it was they were doing. Dusk had merely sighed and apologized to her, though the others all seemed to exchange knowing looks while the Pegasus fumed over him. He barely took notice of her mood whilst he hooked himself up to the carriage with the other stallion and set off back for Ponyville.
Just before they set off, he glanced back at the castle and caught sight of a tall figure on one of the balconies, waving in his direction and, even from this distance, he could tell Princess Luna was smiling. That was the other thing that came out of this evening. Just from his own actions, without any plan, he'd managed to make this a memorable evening for her too. Considering what she had been through, she deserved that much at least. Now… she actually thought of him as a friend. He'd been allowed to call her by her name!
Knowing how significant that was in terms of the traditions of the old days he'd read about in his books, his own smile grew and he waved his hat to her in farewell. She lingered for a moment, waved once more before she returned inside and Dusk began to pull the carriage again, suddenly appraising the night sky as much as he did a clear blue sky.
He could hear Spike on the driver's seat, whistling a merry tune, recalling events that had happened over the rest of the evening or else yawning heavily. A few times, Dusk had to yell to keep him awake and prevent him from drifting off to sleep and falling out of the seat. Nice to know they'd all had a good time in the end. He'd thanked the other stallion who'd waited for them, who said it was no problem while casting hopeful glances at Rarity.
Now and again, Twilight would poke her head out of the window and beam at him in a way that made his heart glow. Again, he couldn't help but notice how beautiful she'd looked tonight, how beautiful she still looked. There was something different in her smile now, something that he couldn't quite put his hoof on. Whatever it was, it made his heart flutter and he smiled back at her whenever she did.
The moon was high in the sky and the stars were shining brightly, glinting on the shiny red surface of the carriage by the time they arrived back in Ponyville. As soon as the last of the girls stepped down from it, it was consumed by a flash of light and it had become just a plain old apple again, which was promptly snapped up by Pinkie. The magic of the night was over, but it would stay with them in their memories forever.
Everypony started to bid each other good night and Rarity pulled Dusk aside once she gave her neighbour an appraising look and a kiss on his check, leaving him giddy and happy as a school foal.
"Well done Dusk, you did it!" She beamed proudly at him. "I knew you could do it, I just knew it!"
"At least one of us did," Dusk remarked lightly. "But I couldn't have done it without your help, Rarity."
"Oh you may I have had my help, but it was ultimately you who pulled it off," she pointed out. "She already liked you Dusk, I just helped to… refine you a bit."
"But I'm still very grateful for it." He gave her a sympathetic look. "I'm sorry it didn't work out for you and Blueblood."
"Ah, yes…" She frowned angrily. "Some prince he turned out to be, selfish, arrogant swine."
"I know, but that's the way he is. You were so looking forward to it too," he added. "I truly am sorry."
"Oh, don't worry Dusk. I suppose it's my own fault in a way, I built up expectations of him that obviously weren't met. I was so sure…" She trailed off and disappointment flickered across her face for a moment. "Oh well, I'll be fine."
"I hope so, but take heart. It may take time, but I'm sure you'll find the stallion you deserve someday. Somepony who…" He thought for a moment and placed a hoof on her shoulder. "Somepony who makes you feel as incredible as you look."
Rarity stared at him in amazement in the wake of his words, or incredulousness, he couldn't quite tell. At first, Dusk thought he'd said the wrong thing and was about to withdraw his hoof until she placed hers gently on his and returned his smile.
"Don't you ever change, Dusk. You might not think it, but you are more of a prince than Blueblood can ever hope to be." She held his gaze firmly. "If nothing else, make sure you treat Twilight with the respect and love she deserves."
"You're talking like we're actually going to be a… you know…" he muttered shyly.
"You will Dusk, I know you two are meant to be together and when you are… just remember what I told you, agreed?" There was no smile, she was deadly serious.
Dusk thought for a moment on her words, not sure whether to believe them or not. In the end though, he was a believer in the impossible so… maybe this wasn't so far-fetched if he thought about it.
"You have my word," he said sincerely. "Don't worry, I'll take care of Twilight."
"That's all I ask." She finally removed her hoof and smiled knowingly. "Now, you still need to walk your date home."
Dusk nodded and bade her good night and, summing up his courage, walked back over to Twilight, who had just finished talking to Applejack. There was a linger of a blush in her cheeks when she turned around and he caught Applejack glance at him, look back to Twilight and wink. He wondered briefly what they were talking about, returning her smile when he reached her.
"May I walk you home, Miss Sparkle?" he asked as graciously as he could.
Twilight blushed again as she levitated a snoozing Spike onto her back. "Dusk… you don't have to, I'm fine."
"I know, but… I want to." He gestured in the direction of the library. "Shall we?"
Twilight seemed to consider, before settling with a nod. "Yes, lets." She took her place close next to him and they set off through the quiet streets, broken by Twilight's question. "It was Rarity, who taught you how to dance, wasn't it?"
"It was," Dusk admitted. "Dancing is an important part of the Gala, so she insisted on offering me lessons when it was mentioned."
"I could see her doing that," she said with a smile. "You were rather good at it… dancing, I mean."
"I tried my best," he admitted humbly. "I've… never really danced before tonight."
"Neither have I, I just read a book on it before we came tonight," she reminded him. "You were definitely better at it than me."
"You… you really think so?" She nodded warmly. "Well… thanks. I uh… learned it all for you, you know…"
"Really? You learned how to dance for the Gala tonight, just so you could ask me to dance with you?" She appeared a little confused. "Why?"
"Well… because um…" He found it a little difficult to explain. "Because… you're just worth the effort."
"Really?" she repeated, but not as cynically as before. "It's that simple? Well… thank you for making the effort."
"No problem," he muttered, becoming interested in his hooves.
"You really are showing how much potential you have. I said that about you in my report to the princess, on that day you were in the hospital." She looked back at him with interest. "Did I ever tell you about that letter?"
Dusk realised that no, he hadn't heard that particular report and responded by shaking his head in a shy silence. He knew she'd written one, but he'd never asked about it, as it he didn't think it to be his business.
"Would you like to hear it?"
"Well… if you can remember it," he said.
"I can remember it like it was yesterday." She paused for a moment. "Dear Princess Celestia, I'm pleased to report that the latest member of our friendship circle is finally starting to fit in with us and he has taught me a valuable lesson about friendship."
Dusk chuckled a little at the memory. "Yes, I wasn't exactly the most receptive of individuals, was I?"
"Not really, no," she agreed with a giggle. "But you've really changed now."
"Don't I know it?" He nodded to her. "Please, continue. What… exactly did I teach you?"
"I'm getting to that," she assured him. "Some of us are born with unique traits about ourselves that we sometimes keep hidden from others, because we're scared about how they might judge or view those things about us. Most times, we don't even show them at all. But, with the help of our friends, we can choose to be more open about those special traits and unlock a true potential that might never have been revealed if we had kept it hidden. I think Dusk has learned that now and we're going to see even more special things about him the longer we're friends."
"Your faithful student, Twilight Sparkle," Dusk finished. "You really wrote that about me?"
"Of course and I meant it too. You've shown that there's so much more to you than you or I ever thought to begin with," she said proudly. "And I think there's even more to it as well."
"How… how do you mean?" he asked through his blush.
"I just still think that there's something more about you, something even greater we haven't seen yet." She gave him a thoughtful look. "I'm not quite sure what exactly, but I'm sure it's there."
"If you say so," Dusk said unsurely. He looked up and realised that, all too soon, they'd reached their destination. "Well... here we are."
"What? Oh, so we are…" Twilight looked just as surprised and disappointed.
They stood in an awkward silence, the only sound coming from Spike's snoring on Twilight's back. Dusk felt as if he should say something else, something witty or perhaps some stab at something romantic. But nothing came to mind, his thoughts a complete blank. Twilight too seemed a little unsure as what to do now, opening her mouth to say something but then shutting it again.
"Well um… thanks for a… a great evening, Twi," Dusk finally said. "It's been… memorable."
"Yeah… thank you for walking me home, Dusk. Or us, rather," she added with a forced giggle concerning Spike. "It was um… well, very sweet of you."
"I try my best." He bowed his head and opened the door for her. "Goodnight, Miss Sparkle."
"Night…" She was about to go inside, but lingered on the doorstep for a moment. Then, quick as a flash, she swooped over and kissed Dusk on his cheek. "See you in the morning."
Even when the door had closed and Twilight had hurried back inside, Dusk was still standing on the doorstep, utterly dumbstruck by what she had done. His skin burned on the spot where she had kissed him, which he touched absently with his hoof. It wasn't burning in a hurtful way, but a warm, tingling sense, like a fire on a cold day. She had kissed him there… she'd actually kissed him. Then, gradually, he grinned.
He had an extra spring in his step as he set off again, happening to glance back at the library before he left. He could make out her shape watching from the window for a few moments, silhouetted against the light inside the room. He started off at a quicker pace again when it turned off, jumping and whooping when he was around the corner. It was just on the cheek, but at least it was something. And she'd watched him go… that was a good sign too, right?
Yes, it had to be. He was actually making progress in romance of all things, with Twilight Sparkle of all ponies. How good was that?
Dusk was still whistling when he returned to his home, unlocking the door and heading upstairs to his bed. Now the night's events were over, despite the happy energy he now had running through him, he wanted nothing more than to sleep. Ophelia was upstairs at the window when he returned, a dead mouse in her beak. She cocked her head at him in an inquisitive sort of way.
"I'm just in a good mood." He gestured to the mouse. "Make sure you eat that outside."
She gave a muffled hoot in understanding and soared off out the window like a cloud on the wind. Dusk made sure to leave it open a crack for when she wanted to come back in and removed his suit, placing it in a cupboard on a hook. He'd need to see Rarity about getting it fixed, for it was a good suit and he had obtained good memories from it.
He placed his hat on the end of his bedpost, pausing to feel the necklace that Twilight had given him. Something she'd said tonight had started niggling in the back of his head, like a persistent itch. What exactly had she meant when she'd said that she felt like there was still more to him than he had revealed so far? Was it something that he didn't even know, like she'd said or was there something more to it? Why did those words feel so significant?
In the end, he just shrugged and removed the necklace, noting how the stones seemed to glow faintly in the darkness. He was probably just thinking about it too much and it was just some form of support from her. He took it at that, tingling from the warm feelings he got. Things were truly going great, he thought to himself happily and it was only going to get better from here on out.
So Dusk settled down in his bed, pulled up the covers around him and drifted off to into an easy sleep, blissfully unaware of the dark clouds that were gathering on the horizon.
Yep, so there we go, rewrite done and I think it's an improvement. Both ways, this story is complete once more and I'm happy with that.
Laters folks and read on to the next!